Arusha, November 12, 2010 (FH) - Three trials continued this week before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), including that of former Rwandan Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatware, who started presenting his defence case against genocide charges he is facing.

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In his own defence evidence, Ngirabatware denied his political party, MRND, or himself to have ever made hate speeches against ethnic Tutsis.

The accused explained that he attended several MRND political meetings in his home prefecture of Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, in 1992, but in all of them he never heard any hate speeches made by party leaders. He claimed further that during his entire period as minister of planning between 1990 and 1994 he never served Rwandans on ethnic grounds.

Before entering the witness box, his lead counsel Peter Herbert presented opening statements for the defence case and sought for acquittal of the accused, claiming that there was no evidence to prove the charges against him.

Defence hearing continues Monday.

Other trials involve former mayor of Kivumu Commune in Kibuye prefecture (Western Rwanda) Grégoire Ndahimana and top leaders of MRND, Mathieu Ngirumpatse, who was the president and his vice-president Edouard Karemera.

In the trial of Ndahimana the prosecution closed its case on Friday after calling 14 witnesses.  Defence hearing is expected to start on January 17, next year. About 40 witnesses would testify for the accused.

During trial of MRND top leaders, Ngirumpatse called five witnesses to defend him. The hearing continues next Monday when the defendant is expected to continue calling his witnesses. Karemera has already completed his defence case.


© Hirondelle News Agency